ALBANY — The state Department of Taxation and Finance Local in Albany has created the perfect recipe for ergonomic safety to protect more than 1,500 CSEA members working there.

The first ingredient is guidance and training from CSEA’s statewide Occupational Health and Safety Committee, where best practices are introduced and trainings begin.

Then add a healthy partnership with management that understands the value and cost savings of reduced ergonomic injuries.

Finally, add members who are willing to step up, get trained and take the time out of their schedules to perform the assessments and get results for their co-workers.

Combined together, the result is strong union activism from our brothers and sisters.
Local officers Lori Jubic and Ron Westfall are good examples. They put time in, outside of their own work, to sit on committees, conduct assessments and guide workers through the process from beginning to end.

“Those of us in clerical positions are tied to our computers so much that having good ergonomic habits makes for a better day,” said Jubic, the local’s 1st vice president. “We don’t want people walking out of here at the end of the day with neck pain or wrist pain.”

Jubic, Westfall and other local activists are determined to see the ergonomics process from beginning to end to ensure that people are working safely and comfortably.

“Sometimes after we do an assessment and it is determined that special equipment is needed, we work with them every step of the process, including getting a doctor’s note, working with the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and receiving (ergonomic) equipment,” Jubic said.

As a result of a solid labor/management relationship, local officers and committee members were able to get updated ergonomic language written into the employer’s Safety and Health Policy book.

“Employees were given the chance to provide input so that the changes more accurately reflect the work we do and therefore offer better protections from injury,” said state Department of Taxation and Finance Local (Albany) President Kim Wallace-Russo.

Westfall, who serves as the local’s treasurer, said that trainings and participation in CSEA’s statewide Occupational Health and Safety Committee provide a solid framework to guide them in their assessments.

“We go in and make recommendations. Most of the time, it’s something small; a minor adjustment, such as adding a wrist wrest or adjusting the computer height,” he said. “Sometimes, small changes make a big difference.”

— Therese Assalian


About Author

Therese Assalian

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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